Apple Human Interface Guidelines

Picture of Sophia Petrillo's frowning face from The Golden Girls.
Picture it! Silicon Valley, 2002 and 2003
Apple just released the iPod. Google just got out of beta. If you had a cell phone at all, it was a flip phone.

The standard for Mac interface design: Helping build the ecosystem of great apps.


I was custodian of this well-known and respected guide to user interface design principles and practice during two major Mac OS X updates. Working closely with a technical writer, I restructured, wrote, and edited, evolving this living document—it’s existing since 1978—with UX guidance and techniques reflecting evolving technology.

Mac OS X played an instrumental role in Apple’s return from near-death, to become the dominant technology company. Apple’s renaissance firmly established design’s central role in technology innovation and adoption. It required developers to commit to a new platform.

Applications—from freeware to Adobe Photoshop—drive the utility of any tech platform. Apple builds the core technology, including human interface frameworks. And they work hard to ensure that they reflect the needs of and empower developers, so that they can deploy them in service of killer apps with great UX.

The HIG is part of that effort. It helps developers adopt and design their software so that it fits in on the Mac, and takes advantage of the best available user experience technologies. The HIG is a living, breathing document that evolves with the technology it supports.

When I had the privilege of working on it, we reorganized its structure to emphasize the whole product experience from store-shelf to screen, to help what would soon become an avalanche of developers new to the platform learn the Mac ropes, and to establish standards for download-and-install software.